Capitol Police adding patrols, street suppression unit in coming months, chief says

No timeline for dedicated 911 center, agreement between Capitol Police and JPD at this point
Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 7:37 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - One of the first things Capitol Police Chief Bo Luckey did when he started six weeks ago: increase patrols throughout the agency’s nearly-nine-square-mile coverage area, and he did it before a single new hire started.

“I started looking at the staff that was already here, realizing that we had 66 sworn law enforcement officers working here,” Luckey said. “The majority of those individuals were assigned to buildings in working in this downtown area. One of the first things that we did was try to shuffle some of those pieces around to where they would be more visible and more effective in the community.”

Luckey heads an agency -- once known primarily for guarding state government buildings -- that will also be responsible for patrolling the Capitol Complex Improvement District, which extends from the Jackson State campus to Fondren.

While the district makes up roughly eight percent of the city itself, patrolling that much represents a major shift from the agency’s past purpose.

We asked Luckey if employees who might have seen Capitol Police as a road to retirement have decided to leave now.

“I fully expected to come in here and lay my vision and my structure out in front of everybody and people say, ‘Okay, I’ve been doing this too long. I’m not looking for this type of, you know, law enforcement career anymore. I’m mostly on my way out,’ Luckey said. “But it’s been the exact opposite.”

That’s also how the new chief described recruiting efforts for the agency, a task some metro-area law enforcement officials have said is incredibly difficult.

Within two weeks, Luckey said they received nearly a hundred applications for officer positions.

Starting salary for an entry-level officer is $40,000 annually, $10,000 higher than that same position at the Jackson Police Department.

One difference: JPD offers more consistent opportunities for overtime pay.

“Salary is an incentive for people to come here. Don’t get me wrong. But a lot of what draws people to Capitol Police and to other agencies is more than just salary,” Luckey said. “It’s about a working relationship with your administration and working relationship with your co workers, equipment, things like that. Salary is just a small portion of what makes people change jobs.”

Luckey said they want to add twenty additional patrol units later this year, which will allow him to have ten to twelve units on the street at any given time, strictly dedicated to patrol.

He also plans to create a unit of almost a dozen officers focusing on suppressing street crimes, and significantly increase the number of investigators his department has.

Right now, one full-time investigator handles cases.

Another change will involve the creation of an executive protection program, which Luckey said will help provide security for legislators and other political.

However, there are also challenges with Capitol Police being a state agency, too, which Luckey said has delayed the creation of their own 9-1-1 call center.

“Historically, the function of state law enforcement is not to be the primary response agency in the area. You know, we’re in uncharted territory,” Luckey said. “It’s not a common circumstance that you have state agency like this, which has concurrent jurisdiction in the city for 8.7 square miles of the city. To say we have any kind of timeline where we expect to start accepting 911 calls directly, we don’t. I can tell you that we are working towards those capabilities.”

Capitol Police shares jurisdiction with the Jackson Police Department and Hinds County Sheriff’s Department.

Luckey said right now, JPD handles all 9-1-1 calls and transfers calls to Capitol Police that JPD wants that agency to work.

JPD Chief James Davis has said in the past that Capitol Police doesn’t work enough crimes in their area, and has voiced frustration at having to be the primary responding agency when criminal activity takes place in the CCID.

At one point, the jurisdictional squabble led to JPD spokesperson Sam Brown claiming to reporters in January that Capitol Police would be working a homicide that ended up being outside the CCID entirely.

Luckey said the key to tackling this crime problem is working hand in hand with all other agencies, including JPD.

“No one agency can do this alone. The only people that suffer when we go back and forth over who’s taking what call are the victims that are calling us, the complainant’s that’s calling us. So we’re not going to get involved in that,” Luckey said. “We’re going to take whatever calls we get whether it comes directly to us or from Jackson Police Department.”

While no agreement between JPD and Capitol Police has been penned to help provide clarity in situations like that, Luckey said it’s coming.

“I think we are working towards some sort of [memo of understanding]. Don’t know exactly what that looks like at this time. Our legal staff at DPS will be involved in helping draft that,” Luckey said.

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